The blue-green challenge

November 8, 2014

When National was at its nadir in 2002, Act to its right and United Future and New Zealand First on its left flank got their best results.

With Labour at such a low this year, the Green Party would have been expecting to pick up some of its support.

But while some New Zealand First and the Conservative Party picked up support on Labour’s right flank, the Green Party on its left didn’t do nearly as well as expected.

This suggests that the Green vote has reached its peak. However, there are still plenty of green votes looking for a home.

These are people who care and are concerned about environmental matters but are looking for a more moderate vehicle than the Green Party, especially on economic and social issues.

This provides an opportunity for National to convince them that the blue-green approach is working for New Zealand economically, environmentally and socially.

While the party, and government, are generally recognised for sound economic policies, many environmental initiatives aren’t recognised, or celebrate.

Among these are five conservation achievements:

This week is conservation week and a chance to reflect on the progress National has made for conservation since 2008. While Labour and the Greens fail to offer credible plans to grow our economy and protect our environment, National is pulling up our sleeves and getting on with the job. Here are National’s top five conservation achievements.

1. Ten new marine reserves in the last year

National have created a record number and area of new marine reserves this year, with five on the West Coast, three in the Sub Antarctic Islands, one at Akaroa and one at Kaikōura. New Zealand now has 44 marine reserves, bringing the total area of no-take areas of protection 9.5 per cent of our total territorial sea.

We’ve doubled the area of set net protection for Maui’s dolphin, introduced a ban on shark finning, introduced compulsory seismic survey regulations for protecting marine mammals, and created new whale and seal sanctuaries at Kaikōura.

National’s recreational fishing parks policy will also protect two of our largest coastal fishing areas from commercial fishing, helping marine life populations to grow and ensuring future generations can continue to enjoy our marine environment.

2. Developing the national cycleway network

Over 2500 kilometres of national cycleway network has now been completed under the National cycleway programme to grow tourism and make our natural environment more accessible, and four more cycle trails will be finished by the end of December 2014.

National has committed an additional $100 million in new funding to accelerate cycleways in urban centres.

3. Expanding pest control for over one million hectares of conservation land

National has initiated New Zealand’s largest-ever species protection programme, ‘Battle for our Birds’, to control rats, stoats and possums on over one million hectares of conservation land.

We’ve also committed over $30 million to containing and controlling kauri dieback, have tightened laws and toughened penalties for wildlife, conservation and biosecurity offending, and passed new freedom camping laws to prevent New Zealand’s outdoors being abused..

4. Establishing the Community Conservation Partnership to support community-led conservation

Thousands of New Zealanders contribute to conservation by building tracks, controlling pests, planting trees, and restoring native wildlife. To support this vital work, National established the Community Conservation Partnership Fund of $26 million over the next four years to support the voluntary work of community organisations.

5. Cleaning up our fresh water

In Government, National has proudly championed action on cleaning up our fresh water.

National has spent $101 million on water clean-up in our first four years of government compared to $17 million in Labour’s last four years – a five-fold increase – as well as committing over $350 million to clean-up historical contamination of our iconic waterways.

National will also spend $100 million over 10 years to buy and retire selected areas of farmland next to important waterways. Already, dairy farmers have done a fantastic job in voluntarily addressing some of the key issues. They have fenced over 23,000 kilometres of waterways – over 90 per cent of all dairy farm waterways. Our approach is about working collaboratively with farmers, water users and communities because you don’t get positive outcomes for the environment by penalising and taxing key industries.

Nuk Korako’s maiden speech

November 2, 2014

National MP Nuk Korako delivered his maiden speech:

E te Mana Whakawa, tena koe

Tenei hoki te mihi atu ki a koe o Te Kaihautu o Te Waka o Aotearoa, e Te Pirimia, Rt Hon John Key, tena koe

Tena hoki koe te rakatira o Te Ropu Reipa – Hon David Parker, tena koe

Hurinoa Te Whare Miere nei, ka mihi ki ka mema katoa

Ko Kai Tahu, Kati Mamoe, Waitaha, Te Rakiamo tenei e mihi atu ki te manawhenua o Te Waha o Te Ika, Te Atiawa tena koutou i haere mai i ka waka katoa e tau mai nei, ki Te Whanganui-a-Tara

Ko Tutehounuku Korako ahau

Ko Aoraki mauka e Tu mai ake kei uta

Maringimai te awa o Waitaki raua ko Waimakariri ki Te Tai o Mahaanui

Ko Te Whare Mahaanui hoki raua ko Te Whare o Wheke kei Te Rapaki o Te Raki Whakaputa e tu ana

Hei ano

Tena tatou katoa

Mr Speaker: Like all others who have entered this house over the past 150 years I cannot hide or disguise my humility.  It certainly is a time to reflect upon family, my life experiences to date and those who assisted me on the journey to this House. Sir, 

I come from a working class background. My father Te Here Maaka Momo Korako was a World War Two Returned Serviceman and a Freezing Worker and my Mum, Hine Elizabeth Manihera Korako a gentle and loving person, who passed away when I was only 10 years old leaving behind nine children, me and eight sisters.

It was not long before we found ourselves in Cholmondeley Children’s Home, to give our father time to organise life without our mother. This sad event started a relationship with me and Cholmondeley Home that continues to this day. My father worked hard to keep us together and to ensure that we all understood and lived by our family values and instilled in me the significance of:



Education and Humility

He taught us to be proud of being who we were and the importance of being able to move seamlessly between the two worlds of the Maori and non-Maori.

Education was paramount in our family and I was lucky to be given the opportunity to attend St Stephen’s School in Bombay, Auckland.

Sir: It is fair to say that I did not expect to be standing here as a Member of Parliament and addressing The House of Representatives all these years later

Like many young Kiwis, the call of the OE, took me overseas on a much extended journey than was originally planned, where rugby and the tourism industry kept me offshore for over 20 years.

The hallmark of that journey however was meeting and marrying my beautiful wife Christine and a few years later with a family pending and a desire to raise our children as Kiwis we came home to Canterbury – more specifically to Christchurch and Ngai Tahu’s Riviera, Rapaki on Lyttelton Harbour.

Rapaki is one of the ancestral communities of Ngai Tahu. When you arrive, it is a little like being transported to another time. Our four boys, now aged between 17 and 22 grew up in this kainga or village, surrounded by our immediate and wider whanau. 

Growing up in Rapaki, in a safe and nurturing environment, gave them the pportunity to learn the tikaka of their home place and their marae and to enjoy and experience many adventures surrounded by mountains and sea. It is their safe haven and always will be.

It was not unusual for Chris to feed 10 children at lunch or dinner time or a family neighbour to do the same.  That very environment created lifelong values for our children, their cousins, and the friends they brought home.

Sir: My Uncle Ben Couch, a three term National Party MP, Minister of Police and Maori Affairs and a New Zealand and Maori All Black, was also raised in the same village.

In reflecting on my wider whakapapa I am reminded that some of my tupuna were familiar with the political environment.  Hoani Paratene, the first ever Southern Maori MP, was my great uncle.  My grandfather, Tutehounuku Korako, represented Ngai Tahu at the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in London in 1897 and at the opening of the Australian Parliament in 1901. My other grandfather James Duncan Manihera was the 1926 Maori All Black. 

Sir: These role models have instilled within me the idea that there is value in striving for something more than the mundane, more than the trappings of comfort, and to achieve something beyond myself, which is what I am doing in this special place.

Mr Speaker, I do bring a vision with me, and that is about where we are heading as a nation. I recently came across a National Party Manifesto from the Maori MPs in the late 1940s.

Quote: “New Zealand as a whole is under a great debt, one that has not always been sufficiently recognised, to the Maori people for the role they have played in the economic development of this country.  What you have received by way of social security and benefits is your due.  You, as a people have contributed to the pool from which come these benefits.

That is why we appeal to you to assist in the task of increased production… …it is our aim to expand and develop the Maori Land Schemes inaugurated in 1929 by Sir Apirana Ngata.

We know to what extent the human element is consciously developed along with work on such lands.  That must be taken into consideration if we are to secure the maximum results from such a policy – the promotion of a healthy, intelligent people, disciplined in the habits of industry and business practice, equipped by the economic resources of their lands to enter with full confidence in to the wider industrial life of this country.” Unquote.

Mr Speaker: This illustrates how much has not changed in terms of vision but how much has changed in terms of achievement. The Maori economy and Maori participation in our national economy has advanced so dramatically in the past thirty years and I have been honoured to be a participant in moving that forward.

I have operated my own businesses, worked on Maori incorporation and trusts, like Mawhera, the Board of Ngai Tahu Holdings Corporation and represented my Hapu at the iwi governance level on Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu

The Ngai Tahu Settlement brokered by the Bolger-led National Government was a milestone for South Island development and I look forward to continuing to make a contribution to Maori economical advancement whilst sitting in this House, because that is our only pathway to long term prosperity and the betterment of ourselves, and it is not just for Maori, it is for all New Zealanders.

Mr Speaker: It is important, though, to acknowledge that I may move easily amongst Maori Communities but I also share a common set of values with all New Zealanders.

My recent Banks Peninsula and Port Hills political campaigns have clearly shown that many other New Zealanders believe that I have something to contribute to all of society.

Mr Speaker: I am deeply grateful to our people of the Port Hills for their continued support. Especially our National Party members, campaign team, army of volunteers and Young Nats. I want to acknowledge, our Canterbury Westland Regional Chair, Roger Bridge and my Campaign Manager, Cathryn Lancaster.

As most of you here will know there is something remarkably rewarding about getting amongst the community and engaging with a constituency.  Sure, some will slam the door in your face and some might be genuinely offended by your politics, but that is who we are.  We are not homogenous.  We are diverse, we are passionate and we are opinionated.  Thank God.

Sir: It would be fair to say that I have never lived in a suburb that is built upon privilege.  In fact for much of my life, I have lived in my traditional kainga.  My neighbours have been successful and struggling business owners, labourers and academics, bureaucrats and tradesman, beneficiaries and retirees.  These are my people.  These are National’s people.

Mr Speaker: I have lived The National Party philosophies most of my life, despite my family background, where many of my family were typical Labour Party supporters, who lived the old adage that Labour looked after the worker. I have taken a fair bit of “stick” especially on the front line in Lyttelton as a scrutineer for National in the Port voting booths, but that was my decision, and I stood by it.

The myth that National is simply there to look after the wealthy has been seriously challenged in this past election.  Thousands upon thousands of voters abandoned their traditional roots to give their party vote to National because there was a greater accord with what they wanted in a government.  Voters responded to the Quality of Leadership and have been drawn to a Unified Party that really did care and still does passionately, about what matters to New Zealanders.

Sir: I am sure that working New Zealanders have new expectations of themselves.  New generations certainly understand that the state is not here to provide their every need.  They genuinely believe that government is a partnership – us and them, and we each have to tow our own weight.

Mr Speaker: Labour may purport to represent the working New Zealander but a bevy of career bureaucrats does not reflect the aspirations of the young Checkout Person at the Ferrymead Countdown, or the Lyttelton Wharfie, or the Process Worker in Bromley who all want to better their lives with jobs, fair pay, home ownership and the likes. Preaching Working Class from Ponsonby, really does fall upon deaf ears.

I reject the idea that National does not represent those Kiwis struggling for a better life for their families and their communities.

That is exactly what we do.  That is why I am here.

Mr Speaker: There are 3 immediate priorities for me for this term.

One is to build the Brown Blue.  Many Maori have lost sight of the huge gains made under successive National-led governments and one only has to reflect on the Ngai Tahu and Tainui settlements, and more recently the ground breaking Tuhoe Settlement to get a sense of what is possible.  Whanau Ora and the under-privileged focused Partnership Schools have arisen under National and the modern Iwi Leadership engagements have given effect to an unprecedented partnership approach.

In the last election even without a candidate contesting the Maori seats, National still secured 14 per cent of the party vote within Te Tai Tonga and over the next three years I want to assist in building that, and not only in Te Waipounamu but also across Te Ika a Maui.

Mr Speaker: I want to Champion the Brown – Blue cause.

Mr Speaker: The second priority is the Christchurch Rebuild.  We all admire the incredible Earthquake Recovery and Rebuild work carried out to date under Minister Brownlee and I want to assure him that, like my years as a feisty rugby playing number 8, I am keen to put my tow shoulders behind the pack and add my weight as required.  I know taking us through the next few years will require a continued team effort and I want to be a part of that team.

Mr Speaker:  My third priority is that I will deliver on what I promised to the Port Hills constituents during my campaign, by continuing to work hard within our Port Hills electorate alongside our community leaders in developing vibrant communities, with plenty of opportunities, supported by great leadership.

Sir: I want to acknowledge my extended and immediate Whanau and Friends, including those who have travelled here today to share this occasion.

E ka whanauka, e ka hoa, e te hunga kainga, i haramai ki te tautoko ahau, Ko tenei te mihi aroha ki a koutou.

It is also the time to acknowledge these wonderful people who have stood to support me in place of my Taua and Poua, and Mum and Dad.

My Aunty Mamae Warnes who is here today, and was once a Young Nat in Wellington over 70 years ago.

My Aunty Rima and Charlie Subritzky and Uncle Dudley and Melissa Couch from Rapaki.  My father-in-law Derek Willard in Australia and Alec Graham from Palmerston North.  And my oldest and dearest mentor, Lachie Griffin, the unofficial Mayor of Governors Bay.

And to the person who has been there for me ever since we met on the Grand Canal in Venice, 24 years ago, who bore me four sons and saved the Korako name from extinction.

Chris, “I am because – You Are.” To my Sons, Maximillian, Michael, Nicholas and James Oliver:  He mahi Kai Hoaka, he mahi Kai takata: “Anything worthwhile will always require a considerable effort”: This is how I got here, today.

Finally Mr Speaker: It is difficult to stand here being humble when there is so much to be proud of. I am in this Parliament, however as a list MP representing the National Party interests. I cannot be other than a Maori and Ngai Tahu but it is my duty to address the needs of all New Zealanders and to concern myself with the whole spectrum of citizenship. Today, Mr Speaker I pledge myself to that task.

Huri noa Te Whare Paremata. E mihi atu kia tatou katoa. Mauri ora.

Todd Muller’s maiden speech

November 2, 2014

National’s Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller delivered his maiden speech:

Tena koe Mr Speaker,

Ko 1862 African te waka, ko mauau te maunga, ko wairoa te awa, ko pakeha te iwi, ko potuterangi te marae, ko Todd Muller ahau.

Mr Speaker, this afternoon I rise with immense gratitude to the people of the Bay of Plenty electorate, for their strong support of the John Key-led National Party and for placing their trust in me as their local MP. 

It is a realisation of a childhood dream, and I commit to work for all of you, to advocate without fear nor favour and for the good of all our community. 

To begin I wish to acknowledge the Borell and Bidois whanau of Te Puna who have given me this very special korowai to wear this evening. I am deeply humbled.

Mr Speaker, there are many whose love and support have enabled me to stand here before you today.

Firstly, my parents Mike and Trish Muller, who are here in the public gallery.  Thank you for your unconditional love, your values, and unerring belief in my potential. Thank you for showing me the power of fusing a loving family with hard work. The more I observe society, the keener my appreciation grows.

I wish to acknowledge my three younger brothers, Gavin, Craig, and Nathan. 

We were a tight family growing up who made our own fun largely around backyard cricket, rugby, and the kind of fierce hand-to-hand combat that only brothers of a certain age can understand.  Thirty years on, the hand-to-hand combat is now verbal and I remain blessed with the certainty of a family’s love.

To my wife Michelle.  Thank you for believing in me, for being willing to walk our life’s journey together and for being such a wonderful mum to Aimee, Bradley, and Amelia. 

To my darling children thanks for your understanding and acceptance that in coming to Parliament, Daddy won’t always be at home. 

Mr Speaker, my biggest work in progress remains being a loving dad and husband and I will continue to strive to be there for them when they need me. 

I wish to acknowledge my predecessor the Hon Tony Ryall. His extraordinary performance as Health Minister is well documented, but it is his integrity and work ethic for the people of the Bay of Plenty that is the benchmark I will seek to emulate.

I wish to thank the local Bay of Plenty National Party, campaign chairman Sean Newland, electorate chairman Mark Bayley, my campaign team, and the hundreds of volunteers for their tireless commitment to our cause.  I am humbled by your support. 

Finally, my thanks to those who have backed me throughout my career, often affording me opportunities that my experience did not justify, particularly the late Professor Lew Fretz at Waikato University, you Mr Speaker in my early days in the National Party, Doug Voss at Zespri, and Theo Spierings at Fonterra. 

In particular, I would like to thank the Rt Hon Jim Bolger who plucked me from party obscurity to be his executive assistant throughout his second term, a role that took me across the country to engage with the diverse families and communities that make up this extraordinary place.

Jim, I have always been extremely grateful for your support now spanning across two decades. You are a statesman of great mana and I am very honoured you are here today.

Mr Speaker, I was born in Te Aroha 45 years ago, but the Bay of Plenty is home.

Like many before us and particularly after us, our family moved from somewhere else to the Bay, 40 years ago for a better life. 

In my parents case it was a move from dairy to a new industry that was just emerging from the corners of citrus orchards in Te Puke and Te Puna.

I went to the local school at Te Puna, then Tauranga Boys’ College, then the University of Waikato where I followed my passion for public service and its contribution to history.

My passion stems from two great influences: the power of the written word and the fulfilling power of deeds.

Firstly, I want to acknowledge the unnamed salesman who convinced my parents to use their savings, such as they were, to buy the latest

World Book encyclopedias in 1978. 

I devoured those books, in particular the sections on American presidents.  It fired my imagination to such an extent that I saw myself as a future US President (constitutional challenges not withstanding).

I even wrote a book as a 10-year-old that saw me elected vice-president of the United States as a very young man in my twenties, become president upon the very unfortunate death of the then president, and then go on to serve 13 consecutive terms until I think I died of old age.  My Mum still has the story hidden away in our attic.  I suspect its best to remain there.

For the power of deeds, it was my grandparents Henry and Eileen Skidmore, former mayor and mayoress of Te Aroha, who gave close to 60 years to that small mountain-bound community and their impact on me has been profound.  Family, faith, and community were at the core of their lives and their example shines for me still.

They demonstrated how selfless service not only enriches those who receive it, but for those who give it, enables a life that has distinct meaning.

Mr Speaker, I have always wanted to serve my community, and for me the vehicle for that service is the National Party.

The National Party has been an integral part of my life since 1989, where I was welcomed into my first meeting with open arms, encouraged to speak, to contribute, and typical of National Party values, the more I did, the more opportunities opened up.

We are a party made up of ordinary New Zealanders, committing extraordinary levels of personal time and commitment to a philosophy that has anchored our own lives over many years, thereby proving its fit for the lives of generations to come. 

I believe the National Party philosophy speaks to the aspirations of the families of the Bay of Plenty and the values of our country.

Our belief in family. Though we are singular individuals, we are made complete through the shared effort and experiences that family brings.

Our belief in individual enterprise.  Hard work and application should be encouraged and rewarded, whilst acknowledging the need for resilience and perspective, because life is often unfair.

Our belief in the importance of constant self-improvement.  Education is a lifelong experience that is neither defined by or concluded with a graduation ceremony or certificate.

Our belief in the value of personal dignity, particularly for our elderly. Our elderly should be our most venerable, but can, particularly in their twilight years, become some of our most vulnerable.  We must get the balance right between supporting those who have much to live with those who have given much already.

Our belief in the right to personal security, be it in our communities, or in our homes.  Our commitment to public safety must be underpinned with tough deterrence for those who breach our trust.

And finally, our belief in a compassionate community that looks out for others and provides a pathway for improvement that is matched with expectations of self-motivation and individual responsibility.

These are the values of the National Party, they speak to the aspirations of the country and will be my guiding stars.

Mr Speaker, I am very privileged to represent the Bay of Plenty electorate.  It wraps around the city of Tauranga, and is made up of the small communities of Apata, Omokoroa, Whakamarama, Te Puna to the west; Kaimai, Oropi, Ohauiti to the south, and Welcome Bay, Maungatapu, Arataki, Omanu, Matapihi, and the future city of Papamoa to the east.

It was a very different place when I was a boy, when the regional population was just over 30,000 and the communities were mostly rural.

All my early childhood memories were about harvesting the bounty, in our case kiwifruit, and the sense of place and space that this remarkable area affords. 

And I can recall the families coming, year after year and the challenge and opportunity that growth brought.

In 1974 no-one, with perhaps the exception of local icons Roly Earp and Bob Owens, could imagine dairy, kiwifruit, avocados so developed, or a community city of our size, with the supporting roading and port infrastructure of the excellence we have.

Now we stand in 2014, a city of 120,000 people, a region spread from Katikati to Te Puke, of 175,000 and growing at over 3000 a year.

My vision for this community looking out to 2030, is a vibrant, diverse region that energetically and innovatively connects itself to the world confidently drawing on the unique talents and character that underpin our small communities of today.

Our region is one of the fastest growing in the country and we should welcome and celebrate that growth, be demanding of our city planners and of Government for the ongoing investment that is required for our region to thrive.

One in five Bay of Plenty locals are from offshore, and half of them from the UK.  Our growth story to date is one of warmly welcoming new people from around the country and around the world. Long let this continue.

Mr Speaker, I commit to the people of the Bay of Plenty that I will add my voice and efforts to theirs and always look to promote our natural advantages of climate, soil, vocational and tertiary education, innovation and manufacturing excellence, diversity of people and ideas, which together with our global port gateway is increasingly taking our uniqueness to the world.

Mr Speaker, throughout my career I have had the privilege of travelling extensively throughout our country.  

It has nurtured in me a fascination for people, a yearning to understand their stories, and to observe the power of place and belonging in their lives.

Mr Speaker, I believe our country will forever be defined by the land and its influence on the people.

Its abundance sustains families and communities, its physical beauty almost mythical in its scale and power, drives our collective creativity, and inspires our innovation.  A forever changing landscape, with brooding intensity and an energy that’s palpable.

Aotearoa gets under our skin. And the longer we have been here, the more intrinsic the connection to the land becomes.

Our tangata whenua have specific words that speak to the power of this place.

But you can see it in the 6th generation farmers who express kaitiakitanga in different words but showcase it on their farms.

You can see it play out in those who seek to protect it from others who wish to come and make a life here.

You can see it in those who wish to tame it, or in those who wish it forever locked in yesterday’s memories.

You can see it in our new migrants that shed tears when sharing the impact of moving here.  

Mr Speaker, the power of this place is real and it affords us as a people huge privileges and responsibilities.

We need to be careful that our innate and subconscious awe of our environment does not blind us from the opportunities that present us.

We have one of the largest economic zones in the world.  Close to 90 per cent of our water flows to the sea, we have a productive basin underpinned by sustainable practices that are admired by many around the world.

We have trading partners that see value in what we can offer and are willing to pay for it.

Mr Speaker, let’s use our natural resources to their fullest potential.

I am not advocating plundering New Zealand with 19th century tools and ideas, I speak of alloying the world’s best technologies and innovations to some of the greatest natural resources and talent in the world, for the betterment of our people.

Mr Speaker, there is always risk in any endeavour, but I firmly believe there is greater risk in inaction. 

Not only will we deny ourselves the opportunity to improve our standard of living for generations to come, but we are quite frankly denying history. 

Since the dawn of time, scarce and valued resources are rarely left untouched. We have the opportunity to use our natural resources and advantages for the benefit of our people, or know for certain that some other people of some other age, yet to come, will do the same.

The capacity of this country to imagine this future, one that leverages our natural resources with our people and for our people, in a way that acknowledges our genuine respect of place and space is one of the defining challenges of this generation.

It’s about fusing the environment, the economy, our education system with the values of our country and the values of the National Party.

Mr Speaker, Captain Cook’s Bay of Plenty is as good a place as any to start. Tena kotou, tena kotou, tena kotou katoa.

Dr Shane Reti’s maiden speech

November 1, 2014

National’s Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti delivered his maiden speech this week:

Ka tangi te titi, ka tangi te kaka, ka tangi hoki ahau, tihei mauriora

Te whare e tu nei

Te marae e takoto nei, tena korua

To tatou mate. Haere e nga mate. Haere ki te kainga tuturu o to tatou matua I te rangi.

Haere, haere, haere.

Ko te kaupapa mo tenei ra, tena koe.

Ko te wairua o tenei whare, tena koe.

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, kia ora mai tatou katoa.

Mr Speaker, may I first acknowledge you with greetings from the North, and from my electorate team led by Murray Broadbelt, and mentors Shirley Faber, Stephanie MacMillan, and my campaign and executive teams. We congratulate you in your role as Speaker.

To my esteemed colleagues, I greet you with the proverb “He waka eke noa”. Together we are in this one canoe, without exception.

To gathered guests and family, I acknowledge and thank you for the service you do me today. That I may make you proud, that we may make you proud. Nga mihi ki a koutou.

Mr Speaker, I stand today as a humble servant from humble beginnings.

The Whangarei electorate has never had a Maori MP. From Murray Smith, to John Elliot, to John Banks, to Phil Heatley, the baton has been passed and now rests in my care and protection.

To this end, and on behalf of the electorate, I would like to thank Hon Phil Heatley for many years of dedication not just to this electorate, but to other ministerial portfolios also.

Mr Speaker, it has been commented to me that from the North to this House, one Shane leaves and another Shane arrives.

This is of course reference to Shane Jones, my whanaunga and fine member of New Zealand First … ah … Labour.

We do have some similarities.

It is true, that Shane was a New Zealand Harkness fellow to Harvard just as I was several years later. I believe his academic appointment was to Kennedy School of Government, and mine was to Harvard Medical School. I will talk more on this later.

I speak today Mr Speaker as the last of the newbies in this National Government. The beginner, the learner, the minnow.

And here in this moment, right now, I claim no honorifics, no title, just Shane, a Maori boy from Northland, and Mr Speaker, when my time and season concludes, from the dust I come and to the dust I will return.

My background is simple.

I was born into a state house, the eldest of five children in a working class Maori family.

My parents believed that further education and hard work was the way to success.

And yet, what further education meant wasn’t exactly clear to them, because they had never experienced it themselves.

Mum left in the fifth form and went to work as a clerk at State Advances. Her people landed in Horeke in the Hokianga in the early 1800s, and are now resting in the cemetery opposite Rawene hospital.

Dad left in the fourth form to return to the family farm in Kawhia. Dad is from a family of 14 brothers and sisters to the same mother and same father. Grandma Irina Whawhakia Paki, descendant of Puoaka Paki, Tainui, Ngati Maniapoto, and Granddad Tom Reti, son of Hemi and Tete Paoro, from Waikare in the Bay of Islands, Ngati Wai.

Times were tough for my grandparents.

Every time Grandma was in labour, she would hop on the horse (no saddle – bare back), and ride down the hill, across the beach, and up the other valley to Aunty Polly who was the midwife. A journey of significant time and distance, with all 14 children.

But if the tide was in, Mr Speaker, it was down the hill, swim the horse, and up the other valley to Aunty Polly.

As soon as he got in from the farm, Granddad Tom would follow, on the horse, down the hill, across the beach, and up the valley, and then, when he got close to Aunty Polly’s house, Aunty Polly would come out and say, “Tom, this is women’s work, go home.”

Mr Speaker, like many in the House today, my grandparents created endeavour through endurement, and success through sacrifice. This is also the story that I will tell.

It is actually not so much about me, Mr Speaker, I am but the instrument in this mortal existence, but it is a story that at its conclusion, talks to hard work, education, and the unbridled privilege of serving your fellow man.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, it is my belief that there are several sentinel events in a lifetime. Some have a few, some have many. Sentinel events are events that shape our lives, and but for a different path, a different outcome ensues.

Two diametric sentinel events happened in my teenage years and shaped my life. The first was institutional racism.

In my student years, I would usually study during the day, and at night, commercial clean with dad, vacuuming floors, cleaning toilets, and dusting blinds.

One year, I asked the administrator if I could sit, not five subjects but six subjects, like all my friends were. I remember the reply, “No Shane, you’re a Maori boy, you’ll do five.”

My internal response was a call to arms “right, I will show you”, and my external response was to win the English prize that year.

No, not for me six subjects, I was still only allowed to sit five, but many years later, when I was promoted to Assistant Professor at Harvard, well, I think I’d made my point.

Mr Speaker I won, but many Maori don’t.

And Mr Speaker, the educational aspirations of Maori must never ever be bounded by the preconceptions of others.

Their dreams too must be allowed to soar to the heavens,

on shards of resolve,

to the heights resounding,

“e tangi e, e tangi e, e tangi e”.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, I was blessed with a second sentinel event in my teens.

In my sixth form year, Hamilton Rotary Club, district 993, broadcast across the Hamilton high schools that they will support one student to America the following year. Many apply, and yet for some reason, they chose me.

You have to imagine Mr Speaker, that in those times, working class Maori were not the normal Rotary mix. Yet, they chose me.

No one in my family had ever had a passport, few had been on a plane, and none had been overseas. And yet they chose me.

Mr Speaker, I went to Idaho in the intermountain west of America. My five host families were a retail manager, two multimillionaires, and two bankers. Can you imagine the contrast? From working class Maori, to a host father who flew me in his private plane on the weekends to his condo in Sun Valley.

These people were well educated, they worked hard, and success had come their way. There it was right there – education and hard work.  My parents had already planted the seed of belief and now I saw it in action, I was living it, I got it, and I went on to apply it.

Mr Speaker, this is a story of opportunities. Windows of opportunities that in a lifetime may open for just the briefest of moments, and then close again, sometimes for ever.

Our task Mr Speaker is to create opportunities for those that follow, that as we pass the baton to them, we have created a world better than how we found it. A footprint that the next tide will gently wash over, and shape to its new resolve.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, I have had three careers.

My first career is as a doctor serving the people of Whangarei for 20 years.

During this time, in my clinical hands, I was truly privileged to care for many good people, and I thank them for enriching my life.

At the same time, I was appointed to Northland DHB for three consecutive terms, and I would like to acknowledge DHB chair Lynette Stewart, who is here today, and whose wisdom and counsel has always been sound.

National literary awards also followed for research published in the national and international scientific community.

I guess somewhere in there, I also found time to qualify to the Institute of Chartered Accountants, receive a QSM, and have three children under three.

To our children, Justin, Melissa, and Angela, thank you for permissioning me to undertake this body of work, and to Christine, whose warm embracing support of family also brings me to this point.

But Mr Speaker, what I most learnt from this, my first career, was to be a good listener. When you partner with people and guide them through the peaks and troughs of their life you get to be a good listener.

And you know Mr Speaker, there is a parallel with serving constituents, and it is this:

What people want Mr Speaker is:

To “hear and be heard, to see and be seen.”

To “hear and be heard, to see and be seen.”

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker my second career is in America where I worked for seven years until recently.

I was selected as New Zealand Harkness Fellow to Harvard. My academic appointment was to Harvard Medical School. My operational appointment was to Beth Israel Deaconess, Boston.

It is in the Harvard environment, Sir, that I cut my international credentials and developed foreign affairs and trade expertise.

In the scientific space of Harvard I found a fertile environment where any innovation, any new thinking that I wanted to dream, I could actually bring to life.

As an informatician, I worked with data, ciphers, and encryption, and became a Beacheads Middle East advisor, out of the Dubai consulate.

For sharing their knowledge so generously, I wish to give particular thanks to my operational team at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston. You took up the Kiwiness, took up the Maori, and in return opened up new personal experiences to me such as the Jewish Seder.

I carry the best of you all with me, and so with deep gratitude I acknowledge Harvard professors: Professor Tom DelBanco, Professor Warner Slack, Associate Professor Charles Safran, Associate Professor Tony Kaldany, and Assistant Professor Henry Feldman.

Mr Speaker, it was always my intention to bring the best of the Harvard environment home to New Zealand.

I was always on loan from my people, I was always coming home, and I bring these learnings with me into the science, technology, and R&D space, and I proudly attest: “It is cool to be a geek.”

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, my third career is here and now.

As the MP for Whangarei, I will advocate strongly for the needs of the electorate, and I thank and honour the mandate they have given me and a National Government.

Our needs are best met by economic development, which includes attention to transport, local government reform, and Treaty settlements.

Economic development which creates sustainable disposable income, also creates options, and these options, I believe, will improve the metrics by which we define a good life.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, I feel responsibilities to my electorate in Whangarei, to my regional neighbours in Northland, and to every single citizen of this nation.

At a national level then, I embrace working with my colleagues here in the House, as we advance a New Zealand in prosperity, equity, and freedom.

Mr Speaker, I would like to extend one dimension of freedom to a discussion on data ownership, a conversation that is heard in the international community, and one that we may have here also.

In the complex balance between freedom of expression and privacy, who owns the data Mr Speaker?

What data? Well, as we seek to share medical records online through electronic tools such as personal health records, who owns the data? The patient, the doctor, the funder?

When a loved one, say a child, chronicles their life story on Facebook, and that child unexpectedly and tragically passes away, who owns that precious story? Without passwords the parents will struggle to reclaim the digital expression of that child. Who owns the data?

Mr Speaker, this discussion may be better framed not around ownership, but stewardship, and Mr Speaker, New Zealand is already strong in this domain. We are already stewards, of the land through DOC, stewards of our costal treasures through kaitiaki stewardship, and stewards of the next generation through love. It is but a small step to be stewards of our data also.

This also is my purpose.

Mr Speaker, ka mutu.

I have been blessed to be mentored and guided by many strong people in my life.

To those at governance tables, trade delegations, embassies and consulates, I watched, I learnt, and I am an amalgam of the best of what you all brought to the table and shared, and for these gifts I thank you.

To Yvonne, who guides and lights the way forward. I thank you.

Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would like to acknowledge my parents, Ray and Robyn, who are here today and thank them.

My parents, who, when faced with a child with endless energy, still decided to keep me alive.

And so Mr Speaker:

May your tenure sir be blessed.

May this House be great.

And may we be one people.

Thank you.


Flexibility not to be feared

October 31, 2014

Employment reforms which passed into law yesterday are part of  National’s plan to create a fairer, more flexible labour market that helps lift earnings and create more jobs.

They are necessary reforms for:

1. More flexible work arrangements

Our employment law reforms will extend the rights of employees to ask for flexible work arrangements, including from the start of their employment. Current legislation only provides this option for those with caregiving responsibilities.

The law needs to reflect the diversity of different people’s employment needs in the modern, fast-changing economy in which we live. We believe all employees and employers should be able to agree on flexible work practices that suit both parties.

2. More jobs

Lowering compliance costs for small-to-medium sized businesses helps them to focus on expanding their business and creating more jobs. Last year 83,000 more jobs were added to the New Zealand economy, our unemployment rate continues to be lower than most OECD countries, and we have raised the minimum wage every year we’ve been in office. We need to keep building that momentum to help even more Kiwis into work.

3. More choice for employees

A return to good faith bargaining during employment negotiations will help prevent unnecessary, fruitless, and protracted collective bargaining that can create uncertainty for employees and employers. Our changes will give new employees more choice by no longer being forced to take union terms and conditions for their first 30 days of employment.

4. A stronger economy and higher incomes

Requiring parties to provide notice of a strike or lock-out will mean both employees and employers aren’t able to unduly disrupt the running of a business.

Enabling employees and employers to agree on flexible arrangements that work for both parties will help to lift productivity, growth, and incomes.

5. Protecting fairness at work

We’re maintaining the key protections for employees at work. Contrary to the politically-motivated claims of opponents, relaxing the current over-prescriptive and often unworkable provisions around rest and meal breaks does not override any requirements for breaks to be provided. We’ll also place clearer expectations on the Employment Relations Authority to ensure rights are upheld and timely resolution of disputes.

The opposition and unions are doing their best to show that workers should fear the changes. On the contrary they should celebrate the flexibility.

It is possible that a few employers will use changes to exploit staff.

That is always a risk but it’s not a reason to handicap the majority of employers and their staff with inflexible rules which add costs and hamper productivity.

Parmjeet Parmar’s maiden speech

October 29, 2014

National MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar delivered her maiden speech yesterday:

Thank you Mr Speaker.

Esteemed guests and colleagues, friends and family.  I will start by offering my congratulations to the Prime Minister and the National team for securing a historic win and a well-deserved third term. And may I also congratulate all new Ministers and MPs, And, Mr Speaker, you on your re-election.

It truly is an honour and a privilege to be part of this high performing team and to serve my fellow New Zealanders. I would like to especially thank our leader, the Rt Hon John Key for being a source of inspiration to me, and many other New Zealanders.

I would like to acknowledge the National Party leadership team, especially President Peter Goodfellow, board members Alastair Bell and Malcolm Plimmer, Northern regional chair Andrew Hunt and former regional chair Alan Towers.

Thank you to Hon Paula Bennett, Hon Maurice Williamson, Belinda Milnes and Ele Ludemann for their encouragement and support.

To my campaign chair and team especially Diana Freeman, Gavin Logan and Rita Ven Pelt – thank you. A special thanks to our volunteers and the Young Nats – you all are amazing individuals. And I’m also thankful for the tremendous welcome that I received from the community.

As my colleagues will agree, none of this would have been possible without the support of my family. My husband Ravinder Parmar has given unwavering support, and thanks to our boys Jagmeet, who turned 18 a week before the election and voted the first time, and Abhijeet, who is 12 and very eager to become a teenager!

Earlier this year I was chosen by the party as the candidate for the Mt Roskill electorate, and I am extremely proud to have repaid their faith in me by winning the critical party vote in Mt Roskill.

Now, I am a list MP who has the privilege of looking after the Mt Roskill electorate. About 39 per cent of the residents in Mt Roskill are of Asian ethnicity – which is more than three times the national average of 11.8 per cent.

Just under half of the people in Mt Roskill in 2013 – were born overseas, and I am one of them. 

Mt Roskill reflects the growing diversity of our country, and it is clear that the National Party reflects that diversity. Mt Roskill is comprised of small businesses, professionals and hardworking people looking to get ahead in life. I can assure them that my values, and those of the National Party align with their goals and aspirations.

Mr Speaker, I was born in India, one of four sisters to very hard working parents.

My father, Sham Jaswal – is now retired after proudly serving in the Indian Air Force for 38 years. As you would expect, our home environment mirrored the morals, virtues and also the discipline of the armed forces. Actually, I am grateful to my dad for that.

My mother, Kuldeep Jaswal, looked after the family, and I spent my early years traveling with my parents from one Air Force base to another.

Those early years of changing schools every three to four years and moving between different Air Force bases in different states of India helped me learn about different cultures and lifestyles and also taught me how to make friends quickly. I remember it being a very busy time.

Mr Speaker, both of my parents worked hard to raise us, and to provide for us. And like many of my colleagues, education was extremely important in my family.

I remember during my final years at school the exciting new field of biochemistry becoming a proper subject and a popular topic of discussion at school, which attracted me to study biochemistry.

I left school wanting to become a scientist to find cures for deadly diseases so I completed a BSc chemistry and MSc from the University of Poona, India. During this time studying biochemistry, I realised the importance of gene cloning strategies to identify the cause or causes of diseases and I decided to do my PhD in this field.

But then, as is traditional in my culture, I married Ravinder in an arranged marriage, and came to this amazing country to join him and start a new life with him in New Zealand.

On arriving here in 1995 and settling into life in Auckland, I wanted to continue my education at the University of Auckland.

I was lucky enough to find Associate Professor Nigel Birch at the University of Auckland to supervise my PhD – he is one of New Zealand’s great scientists and he played an important role in making me a scientist.

To be technical for a minute, for my PhD I investigated a possible role for neuroserpin in neurite outgrowth by its over-and under-expression in two types of cell lines.

Neuroserpin is a serine protease inhibitor predominantly expressed in neuronal cells during the late stages of neurogenesis and in the adult brain during synaptic plasticity.

The result of my research suggested a new role for neuroserpin in neurite outgrowth in-vitro, and my published papers highlighted the physiological importance of neuroserpin with emphasis on its role in neurite outgrowth, neurite regeneration and maintenance in the nervous system.

Simplified, my work looked at if it was possible to use it to re-establish connections in the brain.

My post-doctoral work built further on this research, and then later moving into researching on retinitis pigmentosa – an inherited degenerative eye disease that causes progressive vision loss.

By this time while working as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Auckland I felt it was time to put my training into a more practical realm and decided to move into the commercial sector.

After spending some time in the scientific commercial sector I decided to use my skills to move into business and joined my husband to start up natural health products manufacturing within our existing facility that was being run by Ravinder to make confectionery and chocolate products.

My days in business were focused on product development, improving efficiencies and productivity, and providing that best possible work environment for our staff.

My time in my manufacturing business gave me an in depth understanding of our local and international markets, our food manufacturing sector, our regulations, and how we compare with international markets and how manufacturing in New Zealand is distinctive from other countries.

Our local innovation keeps us one step ahead in the business world. We Kiwis are innovative people and full of ideas to start businesses. While owning and running a business is stressful, busy and often intense, it is also rewarding. I am eager to work for our dynamic business owners so their hard work pays off and that their great responsibility is recognised.

Like my family, I have always believed in hard work.

Monday to Friday I was a scientist and then later a business woman, and in the weekends I worked as a broadcaster for 16 years on an Indian radio station in Auckland plus of course my role on the Families Commission and the Film and Video Labelling Body.

Somehow I managed to fit in raising our two boys, and putting in more than a decade working in the community especially in the field of domestic violence.

My values of strong caring families and communities, personal responsibility and equal citizenship and opportunities mirror that of the National Party.

During my time in this hallowed precinct, I am eager to make a positive difference in a number of areas.

Firstly, science and innovation, and in particular the conversion of science to business. We are producing very highly skilled scientists and I do not want New Zealand to be just a breeding ground for good scientists. We need to provide opportunities for them to explore their scientific vision in our homeland to attract more interest and retain that pride of good work.

We need to supercharge the activation of the amazing research that is currently underway in New Zealand institutions, and apply it to our businesses, our industries and our products. I believe there are huge potential advantages just waiting for New Zealand to seize them.

I am passionate about enabling and encouraging business.

Small and medium-sized businesses are the lifeblood of our economy – 97 per cent of New Zealand businesses are small businesses.

If big corporates are doing well or otherwise we hear about it, but small businesses don’t often make the news, even though they make up a significant part of our economy.  They provide a career for those who value economic independence, they supply components and services to large companies and they contribute to innovation and invention – something that all economies require.

But behind every small business are a group of really hard working people in different industry sectors, and I think they need attention so they can keep making the contribution they are to our economy. I believe there is a lot more that needs to be done to help them thrive. I respect and admire courage of all business people out there and those entrepreneurs who are starting up new companies.

I believe in family values and in the need to mount a coordinated effort to stamp out domestic violence and build resilience and respect in family relationships.

For many years I have worked in this sector and have seen the impact of family violence on family members, communities and in the long run on societies. We cannot afford to skirt around this issue if we want to increase the quality of life for New Zealand families.

Plus it makes fiscal sense – family violence has been estimated to cost the equivalent of Canterbury earthquakes on our economy every year. Equally as important though, is the significant negative impact domestic violence has on children’s wellbeing, psychologically and socially.

As an advocate for gender equality I also believe in merit. I am a proud member of a party, and a caucus, that does not believe in a quota system for women. I am here purely on merit and I would not have it any other way. I think many other Kiwi women feel this way.

Equally, while I am proud of my Indian heritage, NZ is the only place I call home. I do not consider myself as just an ethnic MP. I consider myself to be an MP who brings many perspectives and experiences along with my ethnicity, which I will apply to the serious and important work of an MP in this House.

Mr Speaker, with a multi professional background as a scientist, business woman, community advocate, broadcaster, and mother and wife with strong family values I have come to the House determined to make a positive difference in the scientific world, business world and our communities.

I hope to use my professional background and my scientific background to simultaneously bring imagination and patience to my work here, as having learned that as a scientist that sometimes it takes multiple approaches to get an outcome.

As a business woman I bring the energy, drive and eagerness that is needed in a business person in order to see growth.

And as a community advocate that has worked in the heart wrenching field of domestic violence; I bring appreciation of the effort and hardships of our communities.

I am truly grateful to all the experiences in my life that gave me this opportunity to evolve into the person I am today.

Since becoming a New Zealander I have had 20 years of opportunities and I believe now, it is my turn to give back.

It’s a privilege and honour to be a member of a team that is working for New Zealand, the team led by Rt Hon John Key.

Thank you Mr Speaker.

Chris Bishop’s maiden speech

October 28, 2014

National MP Chris Bishop led the address and reply debate with his maiden speech:

I move, that a respectful address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General in reply to His Excellency’s speech.

Mr Speaker, can I first congratulate you on your re-election as Speaker. I am sure you will continue to discharge the responsibilities of the office with skill and care. Can I also congratulate Deputy Speaker Hon Chester Borrows, and Assistant Speakers Lindsay Tisch and my opponent in the Hutt – my friend, the Hon Trevor Mallard.

It is an honour and privilege to have been elected as a Member of Parliament. I am here because the National Party has placed its faith in me to be an effective list MP. And ultimately of course I am here because over one million New Zealanders voted for National in the recent election. I thank the party, and I thank New Zealand, for honouring me with this important job.

I also thank the people of Hutt South. Lower Hutt was where I was born and raised and I am happy to be living there again.

I am proud to say I am from “the Hutt”, an area with which I have a long family connection.

On my mother’s side of the family I am descended from seven Dixon siblings that arrived on ships at Petone beach between 1838 and 1856. Edward Dixon was one of them and every summer when I go to the Basin Reserve I sit beneath his memorial clock in the old grandstand. My great, great Grandfather Joe Dixon walked the Hutt Road before it even existed and as a lay preacher held services on Petone Beach, a stone’s throw from where I now live.

From the days of Oswald Mazengarb QC’s famous report into delinquent youths at milk bars in the 1950s, Lower Hutt, I think it is fair to say, has had a somewhat mixed reputation. Stereotypes are hard to break, but let me say this: the Hutt is a wonderful place. We have fantastic high-tech businesses at the forefront of the new economy, excellent community facilities, a wonderful natural environment right on our doorstep, and most of all, we have innovative and spirited people.

I believe the Hutt Valley’s best days are ahead of it and I am looking forward to serving the people of the Hutt – from Wainuiomata to the Western Hills – as a list MP based in the area.

While I am saying thanks, I would like to put on the record my thanks to everyone who has helped me get to where I am today: my family, who have loved and supported me in ways too numerous to detail; my friends; my campaign committee in Hutt South, who ran such a high-energy campaign; the National Party leadership in particular Malcolm Plimmer, Glenda Hughes, and Roger Bridge; and the Young Nats who make it so much easier to stand by the side of the road at 6.30am doing human hoardings in the cold because of their infectious enthusiasm. Most importantly I want to thank my partner and campaign manager Jenna, who has been the rock in my life for the past six years.

As some members know, I have been lucky enough to work in roles behind the scenes for this government. I have worked directly for two very different, but exceptional Ministers: Hon Gerry Brownlee and Hon Steven Joyce.

It is a privilege, although I have to say somewhat surreal, to be joining them in a caucus led by a man I also greatly admire, the Rt Hon John Key. Thank you, Gerry and Steven, for your friendship, guidance, and wisdom. If I achieve half as much in politics as you have I will be doing pretty well.

I come to this House as someone who has always, for as long as I can recall, been interested in politics, history, public policy and the law. My parents – John Bishop and Rosemary Dixon – are to blame. From Dad I got my love of politics. Dad was in the press gallery from 1982 to 1987. He was chief parliamentary reporter for TVNZ during the momentous year of 1984. The political bug was transferred to me, or so the family joke goes, when he was told to talk to his new baby. Most people would choose the weather, or what was on TV tonight, something like that. His topic of choice was none other than “this man called Sir Robert Muldoon”, and I’ve had an enduring fascination with him and his politics ever since.

Growing up I would pepper Dad for stories about his time as a journalist – about the night of the snap election; the night of the Mt Erebus crash; about travelling with Geoffrey Palmer to try and save ANZUS. I drank it all in, and those stories and their lessons have shaped who I am today.

From Mum I got my love of the law, particularly public law. From both my parents I gained an interest in ideas; in current affairs; and the world around me. Our household growing up was one where everyone was expected to have a view; and not to be shy about expressing it. Indeed both my parents were champion debaters, and Mum was instrumental in establishing the New Zealand Schools’ Debating Council, which I was president of for four years much later. Almost every year since 1988 the grand final of the Russell McVeagh National Champs has been held where we were this morning, in the Legislative Council Chamber.

There are now four alumni of the Championships who have become MPs: Jacinda Ardern, Megan Woods, Holly Walker, and myself. I am pleased that our side of the House is now represented on that list. I am sure there will be many more in the years to come.

My Dad’s side of the family – although not necessarily my Dad, whose politics I have never known – is true blue. The Bishops were farmers at Hillend, outside Balclutha in south Otago. My Poppa Stuart joined Wright Stephenson in 1928 and worked for them until he retired, interrupted only by World War Two where he fought at Monte Cassino.  Stuart and Cora Bishop almost certainly voted National their entire lives. They referred to National Superannuation as Rob’s lolly.

My mother’s side of the family could not be more different. They were Methodists in the great reforming progressive tradition and Labour voters to their toes. One great grandfather was a wharfie who won the honoured 151 day loyalty card during the 1951 strike.

My grandfather Haddon Dixon was a Methodist minister, director of CORSO, a social activist, and an inveterate follower of politics. The sort of man for whom Parliament TV was made. My Nana was a progressive socialist. In 1981 as a 61-year-old, sickened by apartheid in South Africa, she joined the Stop the Tour movement, helped organise a sit-down protest on the Hutt motorway during the Wellington test, refused to move, and was duly arrested. She happily did her 200 hours community service painting the Barnardos centre in Waterloo Road.

I think I get my social liberalism and reforming zeal from my grandparents – although I think it’s fair to say I didn’t inherit the Labour Party politics.

I come to this House as a 31-year-old – a representative of generation Y. Our generation doesn’t remember needing a doctor’s prescription to buy margarine, or permission from the Reserve Bank to subscribe to a foreign magazine, or any of the other absurdities of the Fortress New Zealand economy. It seems scarcely believable to us that from 1982 to 1984 all wages and prices were frozen by Prime Ministerial fiat.

For our generation, inflation has always been low. We’ve always been nuclear free, homosexuality has always been legal, and the Treaty Settlement process has always been underway.

New Zealand is a completely different country to what it was when I was born. I’ve always been profoundly fascinated by that transformation, and what its effects have been. For example, it intrigues me that while Bob Hawke and Paul Keating are regarded by the Labor movement in Australia as heroes, and receive standing ovations at Labor Party conferences still to this day, New Zealand’s own Labour reformers are essentially pariahs from their party.

I think it a significant portion of the Left in New Zealand has never made its peace with the economic reforms of the 80s and early 90s. And in some ways the debate inside the Labour Party today is the most visible manifestation of that lack of reconciliation. The battles of the 1980s are still being fought. That’s a shame.

A maiden speech is traditionally the time to put on the record your principles, philosophy, and beliefs. I will do so, with the caveat that I am not so arrogant as to think that my current views are immutable. Some of my political heroes said things in their maiden speeches they almost certainly would not have agreed with later in their careers. Roger Douglas’ maiden speech in 1969 is extremely sceptical of the benefits of foreign investment in New Zealand. In 1970, Paul Keating told the Australian Parliament that the Commonwealth government should set up a statutory authority to fix the prices of all goods and services, and bemoaned the number of young mothers who were entering the workforce.

I think good politicians listen, reflect, read, and think deeply about the world – and if necessary, change their minds. I hope to always be open to that in my time in this House.

Mr Speaker, I am an unashamed economic and social liberal. The classical enunciation of liberalism within National Party remains John Marshall’s maiden speech as the member for Mt Victoria in 1947.

I believe, as he did, that “the conditions of the good society are liberty, property, and security, and the greatest of these is liberty”.

I think individuals make better decisions about their own lives than governments do. A fundamental belief in the primacy of the individual over the collective should be the lodestar that guides all good governments. I think we should trust individuals more than we do, and be more sceptical about the ability of government to solve social problems.

I believe that the best way to deliver the prosperity New Zealanders deserve is through a globally competitive, market-based economy that rewards enterprise and innovation. The reforms of the 1980s and early 1990s were vitally important in transforming New Zealand from a sclerotic economic basket case to a modern, functioning, competitive economy, but there is more to be done.

I support a tolerant, multicultural New Zealand that is confident, proud, and open to the world. Our society is enriched greatly by migration. The periodic desire by some to scapegoat migrants I find deeply distasteful. I am proud of how New Zealand in only one generation has changed from an inward looking, insular economy and society, to one that is internationally connected and confident on the world stage.

I believe we can responsibly develop our natural resources, and improve our environment at the same time. We are blessed with abundant natural resources in New Zealand – both renewable and non-renewable – and we are not wealthy enough as a nation to not take advantage of them. What we know from history is that the wealthier a country is, the more able it is to take practical steps to improve the environment. Some of the most polluted places on earth were in the communist Soviet Union. Growing our economy through the responsible development of our resources gives us the ability to preserve things precious to New Zealand like our rivers, lakes, and national parks.

Mr Speaker, I come to this House with a long history in debating at school and university. I have a profound belief in free speech, the power of ideas and the importance of persuasion by those in public office. Fundamental, sustainable change in public policy is only ever achieved when the argument is won. That’s how marriage equality was achieved. It’s how Treaty settlements were started and how they have continued. It’s how we tore down the walls of the Fortress New Zealand economy and opened ourselves to the world. Because leaders in our Parliament made the case for those things and won the argument.

One of the proudest moments of my life was to debate in the Oxford Union, standing at the same despatch box that Lange stood at where he delivered his famous speech on the moral indefensibility of nuclear weapons. Lange was at his best when arguing.

Mr Speaker, I believe Bill English had it right in his maiden speech as the Member for Wallace in 1991: “What I bring to this job is a willingness to get into the argument rather than to avoid it. I owe it to my voters to present in Parliament what is best in them – a credible, constructive, and committed argument… Power without persuasion has no lasting place in a democracy.”

As long as I am an MP I will always try and present credible and constructive arguments – and I’ll always be willing to have one.

I am proud to be joining a government that is demonstrably making a difference for New Zealanders. I agree with the Prime Minister – we are on the cusp of something special as a nation. This National Government has an historic opportunity to be the kind of long-term government that doesn’t just administer the status quo, but one that can, through incremental, constant economic reform deliver ever growing living standards for all New Zealanders.

We have the economic opportunities right in front of us – globalisation, a rapidly growing Asian middle class, and technology ending the tyranny of distance. We have the right leadership through John Key, Bill English, and his Cabinet team. And we have the right policy framework in place: smaller government through better government, openness to foreign capital and labour, a tax system that rewards hard work and enterprise, and a growing culture of innovation. Most importantly, this government has a fundamental belief in the power of the New Zealand individual and civil society.

This is a government that is governing with a hard head and a soft heart. We are the first government in a long time which has a resolute focus on tackling some of the intractable social problems which have bedevilled New Zealand for too long, such as a persistent underclass; welfare dependency, Maori and Pasifika educational underachievement, and poor quality social housing.

We are not doing this by simply throwing more money at problems. Care for those most vulnerable is not, or should not, be measured by the amount of money spent, the number of bureaucratic agencies set up, or the number of people employed to deal with a problem. We should judge policy by results. Milton Friedman was right – “one of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results”.

This is a results-driven government. Across the fields of welfare, housing, and education we are driving through quite remarkable and transformative change that is delivering results for the most needy in our society.

There is still more extremely important work to do. One thing that I am personally passionate about is our plan to reward excellent teachers and keep them in the classroom, doing what they do best – changing kids’ lives.  Everyone remembers their amazing teachers growing up. It’s simply wrong that the classic career pathway for good teachers at the moment involves leaving the classroom to move into administration. I am proud to be part of a government that is changing that.

Mr Speaker, when people look back on this passage of New Zealand’s history, it’s my fervent hope that they will recognise that it was the Fifth National Government that put in place the reforms to raise the quality of teaching in our schools, that challenged the soft bigotry of low expectations, that made progress on tackling child abuse and family violence, that made social housing actually work for people, and that invested in people to support their aspirations for independence from the State.

This government’s signalled economic achievements are important, but I think and hope that this government will be known for much more than that.

In closing Mr Speaker let me just say finally that I come to this House with the desire to serve. To represent the people of the Hutt Valley, to apply my mind to the challenges facing New Zealand now and in the future, and to work hard each and every day for and on behalf of New Zealanders. Much faith has been placed in me by many people. Mr Speaker I intend to work hard to repay that faith.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,434 other followers

%d bloggers like this: